Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a Laugh?

Is the question asked on Vanity Fair's April cover about new comedians. Lets hope the new crew can stave off barrel living during this downturn.

They might take heart in knowing that Ogden Nash's rapid career ascent occurred during the Great Depression. Nash's book "Hard Lines" was embraced by a nation in search of smiles during the 30's.

Similarly, in the 1940's overseas G.I.'s were laughing in their foxholes at specially printed collections of Nash's poems. These paperbacks were published by the War Department and shipped along with their canned rations.

Perhaps the Great Recession is the right time for an Ogden Nash renaissance.

The battered housing market is not keeping a real estate developer from tearing down one of Ogden Nash's favorite hangouts. New Hampshire's Portsmouth Herald reports that Rye Harbor Realty is proposing to tear down Saunders restaurant, a frequent summer dining venue of Ogden Nash, and replace it with eight condos.

The local board of adjustment has scheduled the vote for April 8th. The restaurant is expected to remain open for one more summer even if the developer prevails.

Saunders was founded in 1920 by a local fisherman and grew from fish market to lunch counter to a popular full service restaurant.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Moyers and Lithgow on Ogden Nash

"...One of the reasons why I love Nash is, to the extent I write poetry at all, I write daffy doggerel for little children. But Ogden Nash is kind of my patron saint. " Said John Lithgow on a recent episode of Bill Moyers Journal .

Moyers also wonders aloud what it would be like to have Nash and Shakespeare together:

BILL MOYERS: I've often-I've wondered sometimes if Shakespeare might, where ever the great poets gather, be sitting on a corner with Ogden Nash. Comparing their almost mischievous view of life that reflects itself in different...(Lithgow cuts him off )

Clearly Moyers holds Nash in high regard.

While Lithgow reveres Shakespeare, surprisingly he characterizes Nash's work as 'doggerel'. and presumptively places himself on par with Nash as a poet. Me thinks the actor doth presume too much. Lithgow closes the Nash segment with a garrulous interpretation of "No Doctors Today, Thank You."

"They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful, well,
today, I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetite of a Victorian.
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today, I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle any
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn't much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
I've gotsam.
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because I
am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.
Kind people, don't think me purse-proud, don't set me down as
I'm just a little euphorious."

Copyright © by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt.

BILL MOYERS: Oh, I love that. Euphorious. A word without meaning, but which is invested with feeling. You get it, even if you don't get it, right?
JOHN LITHGOW: Yeah. He just loved music. He loved to almost caricature language.

You can watch the entire episode and read the transcript here . The poem is read at about the 15 minute mark of the second half of the video.
Poetry Blog Directory