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John Oswald: “Dab”

Yvette Mimieux and Ali Akbar Khan: Flowers of Evil

Yvette Mimieux I really can’t do better than The Encyclopedia of Sixties Cool in summarizing the career of Yvette Mimieux:

The California Girl: Los Angeles-born Yvette Mimieux began her career wearing a toga and fending off blue-skinned Morlocks opposite Rod Taylor in The Time Machine before settling down as the ultimate beach bunny in Where the Boys Are and then on the Dr. Kildare TV series. When hippie chicks replaced surfer girls in the public imagination, Mimieux updated herself accordingly, recording an LP, Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, in which she read poetry to a raga accompaniment by Indian master musician Ali Akbar Khan. As an empowered woman in the ’70s, Mimieux wrote a TV movie starring herself, and played a wronged woman in the cult classic Jackson County Jail. She still has a knack for doing the right thing at the right time in the right outfit; note her instructional yoga video. To judge from her appearance in a snug unitard, she still looks great in a bikini too.

So this is Yvette’s equivalent of, say, Shatner’s The Transformed Man LP: a chance to “show another side” of one’s creativity at the height of one’s fame. Unlike The Transformed Man it’s of interest beyond its obvious kitsch value.

Flowers of Evil LPAli Akbar Khan was one of the most respected musicians in the Indian Classical tradition, and if you can track down his Signature Series of CDs (or other recordings) it’s worth it. The label this appears on is Connoisseur, his own label, which released a lot of LPs of his music during the sixties, and the Signature CDs repress those LPs. The Baudelaire LP in question is remarkable in that it actually works, unlike Sidney Poitier’s LPs of Plato. The decadence and sensuality of Baudelaire’s lines is accompanied by a music that to a Westerner is also filled with decadence and sensuality.

  1. To a Passer-By
  2. A Voyage to Cythera
  3. Murdered Woman
  4. The Albatross
  5. Lethe
  6. Episode

Robert Lee: The Ballad of Bruce Lee

[front cover of Robert Lee sings... LP] Robert Lee is the brother of martial artist Bruce Lee. Robert released this album, Robert Lee Sings… The Ballad of Bruce Lee, in 1975 in dedication to his older brother, who had died in 1973. Although he does sing all the songs, Robert has a hand in writing only 3 of them, posted here. The song “Parting”, features lyrics written by Bruce Lee.

  1. JKD – Jeet Kune Do
  2. Parting
  3. The Ballad of Bruce Lee

front cover of Robert Lee sings... LP]

In an article from a 1974 issue of Black Belt magazine, Robert describes his relationship with the late master of Jeet Kune Do. It’s hard growing up in the shadow of the world’s greatest martial artist.

Although my last name is also Lee, I am not related. In fact I am Korean, not Chinese. I appreciate Bruce Lee as a martial artist/actor, but I’m no expert or huge fanatic. However, as an Asian-American male, I grew up with little or no role models that “looked like me”, except for Bruce Lee. And, sadly, I can’t think of really any other Asian-American figures in pop culture or politics or literature, etc. that I can really look up to in the way that African-Americans might look to Martin Luther King or Muhammad Ali, Caucasian-Americans to Thomas Jefferson or Mark Twain, Latin-Americans to Cesar Chavez, etc…

Maybe it’s unimportant or superficial. I’ve certainly found my own role models of various ethnic and national origins, but I have to admit that I do have respect and affection towards Bruce Lee for being a strong, heroic, leading man, rather than the nerdy, harmless, un-masculine stereotypes that is more often the images Americans see of Asian-American males, or Asian males for that matter.