Monday, June 9, 2008

"..and the boys in the band..."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. The whole Judy thing? Too tragic, too 1966 for words. I don't care. Today would have been her birthday, and I feel like having a bit of a wallow. It's camp, yes, but it goes beyond that; Susan Sontag, in her famous notes on the subject, discovered a crucial and often overlooked truth: "Camp is a tender feeling."

I'm not an obsessive fan, and I don't particularly feel a need to justify it; I just love Judy Garland, admire her talent, feel sad about the sorrows of her life, and somehow wish it had all turned out a little better. The beginning was so enchanting:

And the highs were so high - when you were an MGM star, you were a no-questions-asked Star:

She is still instantly recognizable, even in a few strokes of a pen:

And the joy of today is that it's all still there - on film, on tape, online:

I was talking, once, with Someone Who Was There (and kind of a big name in their own right), and somehow we got talking about Garland. "What everyone forgets," he said, looking off into the middle distance, thoughtful, "is that an awful lot of the time she had an enormous amount of fun."

I think that's encouraging.

If you care to read a rather good essay on the Judy Phenomenon, The Atlantic has one here. Reading it might be a nice way to mark the day; but listening to the Voice would be a better one.


  1. I remember when she died. I was only ten at the time, but because she was Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" I the words "pills" and "bathroom floor" were immediately etched upon my mind.

    Didn't hear about the whole Stonewall thing until the eighties...

  2. JUSTIFY? I should think not. I may appear to be Ladylike, but anyone who wants to interfere with our wallowing will have to deal with me, and I can be one big mean queen when I need to.

  3. I like the drawing. Hirschfeld always did a great job with her.

  4. I'm with you, Muscato...I'm far from obsessive, don't have EVERYTHING she ever did, don't know every bit of minute trivia...but I love and respect her, and am constantly awed by the sheer FORCE and MAGNITUDE of her talents. At her very, very best, Judy makes me cry. Seriously. And not because of any pathos or tragedy--but because that kind of talent is just so overwhelming.