Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

To Deuce of Clubs index page

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


Dig Infinity!: The Life and Art of Lord Buckley

Oliver Trager (2002)

 

Anita O'Day: Unlike Skelton, Buckley performed for the joy of creating. If it hadn't been a Walkathon, it could have been for a small crowd on a street corner or for his own amusement alone in his room. He was so much his own man, nobody, but nobody could control him. Bread? It was something to spend, a convenience, but not a necessity, not important enough to lead to compromise.

Charles Tacot: Buckley's life was exactly like his act. In other words he lived his life in bits. When he would do something it had a beginning, a middle and a climactic end. To him, performing in front of you or me was just as important as it was in front of a thousand people. So he lived his life that way.

Lord Buckley: A little truth. Truth is strange to the ears. Even wild truth: things that happen that supercede and carry on beyond the parallel of practiced credulity.

Dig Infinity

Tubby Boots: Buckley rarely talked about his past. But he once told me a story about a time he was hanging with some musicians when he was living in Chicago. This was when he was drinking heavily in the early 1940s and he loved to party. So he's telling these musicians, "Man, you know my wife cooks so fine. You would not believe how my wife cooks. She is the greatest cook in the world. Now when we finish the gig tonight, we all gonna go over to my place and I'm gonna get her to burn some food for us. So we all gonna go over to my place." So they finished the gig and Buckley and all these musicians hop into the car - about six or seven of them. And they drive over to Buckley's house and he ain't stopping: "Man, this bitch can cook. You never had food like this ..." Well they open up the door, walk in and here's his wife on the couch giving head to some musician. Buckley didn't bat an eye. She never stopped. The musician was ready to go. The other musicians were behind Buckley watching this whole scene. And Buckley turned around to them and said: "But she is a good cook."

And there were lesser-known curiosities like A. Robins, the Banana Man, who silently filled the stage with furniture from the innards of his black cloak. . . .

Lord Buckley: To the people who don't know, to be cool means to believe. To stay cool is to have the sweet fragments of serenity rock your wig away.

Dick Buckley may have been influenced by The Original Handbook of Harlem Jive, a slightly fanciful lexicon of the new argot compiled and published by Dan Burley, a hep columnist with the Amsterdam News. The slender volume contained parodies including the soliloquy from Hamlet from which Buckley could have developed his own hipsemantic take. Buckley may also have been familiar with the Hipster's Dictionary a similar book written by Cab Calloway, the flamboyant bandleader, composer, and lexicographer - as a sort of Webster's in hip.

Steve Allen: Buckley and I weren't fishing buddies. I never got to hang out with him a lot. I always found it a little awkward to talk to Buckley as just a human being. Somehow he never seemed to get out of that fake Englishman character he did for a living. I think there must be something to the idea that, at a certain point, he became "Lord" Buckley for life. Ordinarily, whoever you are, whether you're one of the greats or just a run-of-the-mill performer, you are you and that's how you talk at Walgreen's lunch counter. But with Buckley it was always: "Ah yes, my dear Prince Allen." And for me it was hard to talk about what the Dodgers did that day with the guy always thinking and talking like that. So we never really got into any very interesting conversations.

Red Rodney: I'd go to his house on West Seventy-first Street when he had a living room with a fountain in it. He had just married Elizabeth and she was very beautiful. I remember him saying that she was his ninth wife a few times. I remember one day at the place on Seventy-first Street she was carrying a tray of glasses with wine on it and held it up while posing in a ballet dancer's posture. He would kick her in the ass and she wouldn't move. And his remark was: "Sturdy wench, isn't she?"

Al Young: Buckley didn't rip anybody off. I remember something I once heard the late blues singer Big Bill Broonzy tell Studs Terkel. Broonzy said, "You can't steal something from somebody else. What you do is you take it and you do with it what you're going to do with it. But it's not the same." I think that's the process of making art.

Mel Welles: Something always disturbed me about Buckley historians. They talk about him as if he was an innovator and a creator of a lot of stuff. The fact is, other than a couple of pieces which he happened to make up as he went along, most of the hip stuff was written and created by other people which, when given to him, with his storytelling ability, allowed him to embellish upon it and make it his own. The reason that, so far, nothing about Buckley has really been hugely successful is because basically - and I loved him deeply and still do - he was a loser not a winner. The idea that he was symbol of an era is fine but it really doesn't go very far.

Jim Dickson: One of the people who discovered Buckley was the novelist Henry Miller. Henry Miller wrote me letters and had me send records to people over the years. One day I was driving through Big Sur and I thought I'd bring him some records. I had just gotten these twelve-inch versions of Euphoria which had a little picture of Lord Buckley up on the cover. When Henry Miller saw it and found out that Buckley was white he was outraged. He had apparently written about him in a couple of books thinking he was black. He could hardly control himself talking to me but he still took the records I brought. But he couldn't believe it. He had compared him to Rimbaud in the preface of a book. He mentioned Buckley in two different books. One I think was about Rimbaud who was a street poet in which he made comparisons between Rimbaud's language in his time and Buckley's language in the present time.

Mel Welles: There were a couple of beliefs that he had that I found very admirable. One was his belief that if everybody treated each other like Lords and Ladies of the Royal Court everything would be much rosier in life. He thought that too many people were insidious to each other rather than polite and respectful and he proved it once. I got him to the job on a picture called Marry Me Again, which was later retitled We're Not Married. I was working at Fox at the same time so we drove to work together. I was working on a picture called Soldier of Fortune with Clark Gable and Susan Hayward. So, when I broke for lunch I thought I'd go over and see how he was doing. I walked over to the stage where they were shooting and what I witnessed was fantastic. The grips and the electricians were all bowing to each other and saying things like "Your Lordship, would you mind throwing me that hammer?" or "Sir Hugo, would you please put another scrim on that light?" In one morning he could turn an entire set into a fairy tale with people bowing to each other and addressing each other like they were Lords and Ladies of the Royal Court. So that was one belief that he had. The other belief that he had was that people are really people and they're the most important thing in the world, that nature really sucks. He believed that people are important and that people should be good to each other. It doesn't matter what religion you are or the color of your skin or whether you are gay or not or anything like that.

Lady Elizabeth Buckley: We were having fun having hard times. That was his secret. He knew how to turn anything around. Most people don't realize you have to work very hard to have good times.

Larry Storch: Once, when times were hard, he dressed his children up in their very best Little Lord Fauntleroy suits and with his wife Lizabeth dressed in her Chinese princess costume (she was really quite regal), he marched them all not to a fashionable restaurant but to an old White Tower hamburger joint. He sat them all down at the table and ordered hamburgers for his family and, indeed, everybody who was in there. And then, of course, when he couldn't pay the bill he talked his way out of that.

Lord Buckley: Dig and thou shalt be dug. Drag not and thou shalt not be drug.

A footnote to the album's title track is an alternate, jazzier, and better take of "Hipsters, Flipsters and Finger-Poppin' Daddies" - also including Carter on alto - which appeared on The Golden Age of Comedy, an RCA compilation released in 1972.

Dick Zalud: Buckley was looking for a house in Hollywood and found this little old lady in her eighties who owned this house, a gorgeous house in the Hollywood Hills. She was living at a Methodist home in a two-by-two room with a bath. He said, "Madam, you own a gorgeous house. Why are you living like this? You must come and live with us in your house and restructure your life and have some laughs and have some people around you and some joy!" He went on and on and on with this. And sure enough he conned this old lady into moving into the house with him and his family. I don't know what the rent situation was or anything like that but I don't think they were paying any rent. She lived upstairs. She had a room and they were taking care of her. They were cooking her meals and that old lady was having a ball. But, in turn, they were using her house. And for some reason he nicknamed her the Witch and sometimes Lady Curl.

Jim Dickson: He gathered together a lot of interesting people who became friends with each other and have stayed friends. You'd go to Chicago and meet somebody who was friends with Buckley and you would become friends. People like him are catalysts.

Charles Tacot: As for the children, I have seldom seen any who were as well-behaved and well disciplined as Richy and Lori. It seemed to me sometimes almost as if Dick wanted to teach them what he had never learned. They were not disciplined in a threatened way, but with very real and obvious love. I remember Dick once asked the children to show me their room, which was downstairs in the Whitley Terrace house, and one of the ways of reaching it was a rickety staircase on the outside of the house. It was around 2 a.m., of course pitch-black, and the children started to go down the less hazardous route, but Papa would have none of it. He hustled all of us outside, and as Richy and Lori, who were only five and six at the time, were hurrying down the worn-out staircase, he kept saying, "Faster, children, faster, faster," until little Richy and Lori were just a blur of running arms and legs. Then Buckley turned back to me with his best maniacal look, and in a stage whisper said, "They are heavily insured."

Orson Bean: I guess he always carried his cigarette in a holder that I later saw was an end of an enema tube and that was quite wonderful. I thought it was quite wonderful that he never mentioned that, he never called attention to it, he'd just have it. I don't know what kind of comment he was making about himself or about the kind of people that would use cigarette holders, but the enema tube cigarette holder kind of summed him up: that weird combination.

Lord Buckley: I’d appreciate if you'd quit filling each other's ears with inane vacuum and assemble your receiving sets to, shall I say, make room for the large charge.

Lord Buckley: Those dirty, lousy, miserable, rotten politicians! Those thieving monsters. Those greedheads. Look what they've done to this beautiful city! Look at these streets! Those rotten, foul-headed freaks! Death to them ...

Judith Malina: That he was a bit older than most of us made us very happy: to see that we were not an isolated phenomenon but part of that spirit of cultural rebellion that had always been there. I was around twenty-nine or thirty then and people were beginning to say: "Don't trust anybody over thirty." I thought: "Don't trust him? I'd trust him with my soul." Being thirty then I didn't have to feel that I had to stop making revolution because I was going into another period of my life. And here I am: I'm seventy five and I haven't given up on the beautiful, non-violent anarchist revolution one iota. I'm fighting it as much as ever with, if not with as much energy, certainly with a lot more smarts than I had then. I can look back on Lord Buckley's energy and say, "Hey, we aren't so bad." I hope I can still do what I do now when I'm eighty-eight and travel the world and say, "Don't give up on it! It's a static period but the pendulum is in the downswing and it will come up again!"

Mel Welles: Lenny had his own very tight entourage and Buckley had his. But some of Lenny's entourage were persona non grata in Buckley's circles, certain people who Buckley felt were rotten on the inside. You had to have a lot of nice for Buckley to like you. He might tolerate you if you didn't but if you wanted to be a friend of Buckley's - a huggin' and kissin' friend - you had to be basically a nice person.

Del Close: Somehow or other when an American comedian takes on real issues, he sometimes seems to wind up dead or forgotten. I used to kind of resent it and ask myself: "What am I doing alive?" I guess I just wasn't good enough to be killed by society.

Ken Nordine: Buckley would get into the language using it almost in a sprung poetic way of transubstantiation. He would, by changing the language, add certain things. He brought to the metaphor that he was using images and his own slant that was very much of his time. He was more interested in how he could play with the structures that he was in - how he could bend them to his own mind and in so doing he created his own rather unusual, unique style that nobody has approached since.

Shelley Berman: The critics liked to lump anyone who wasn't doing the straight, one-line jokes or any other kind of performing style into a single category. As a result people like Lord Buckley, Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, and myself were labeled as "sick comedians," which is a very unfortunate part of being a performer. If you emerge at a certain time and are not doing what your predecessors did, well, then, according to the media, you must be doing something alike. But nobody was doing what Lord Buckley did.

Lord Buckley: Comedy is the only thing I’ve been able to take seriously.

While in Cleveland, Ohio, Buckley was booked for a gig at the Black Angus Restaurant's El Toro Room by Bill Randle, a soon-to-be-renowned local disc jockey. Buckley's performances, advertised as "Word Jazz" in the local papers, drew not only Cleveland's budding hipster population but every cool hustler, hooker, pimp, and parolee as well.

Lord Buckley: There's a magnificent pylon in this, there's a torch for the world: that life cannot be as beautiful as it should be. We have the blocks to make up the mosaic of life: the dream - a beautiful, wonderful, warm, unendingly delightful schematic of living. This is the truth. We have all these things to put them together. But the pylon that describes the torch of the world is Browning's "Pied Piper of Hamelin." The story of the broken promise ...

Stern, a bit of an entrepreneur, came in as a silent partner and they set up Newman, Stern & Company. However, when World War I came along the government stopped all amateur radio. They said the country needed all the airwaves and, besides, "those Germans might be using it to send messages to their country." So Newman and Stern were shut down. There was no relief from the government. They simply said, "You cannot sell these parts."

Vince Diaz: Sometime after arriving in Nevada, the Buckleys decamped in the desert on the outskirts of the Vegas city limits in a ranch house at 5000 Eldora Avenue that became known alternately as ''The Mattress Factory," "The Mattress Farm" or ''The Mattress Mine." It seems that the U.S. Army had dumped scores of mattresses in a vacant lot across the road from the Buckley compound as either part of a kickback scheme or just plain bureaucratic incompetence. Never one to pass up a freebie, His Lordship commissioned members of the newly forming desert Royal Court to drag each and every one of them into and around his home.

Jonathan Winters: We went out in the desert where he had a mattress farm and everybody sat on those things, and he kind of held court.

Les Thompson: He had a house out in the desert near Vegas. It was a small house surrounded by 150 mattresses. He had all these mattresses around in case he had company both inside and outside the house. Since it never rained there, people could sleep wherever. And he had an iron horse in the living room that somebody had welded together for him.

Eldon Setterholm: Then Buckley went over to Vegas and he got a job at the El Rancho Vegas. I was seeing that he was always scuffling. That's why he went to live in Las Vegas - to be close to the Strip - the show capital of the world. And he made some good money and with that money he put down on this little two-bedroom house out in the desert. It had a little pump shed in the back for the water and generator. There was also a shack next door, on the next property, sittin' out there in the desert, nothin' else around but just sand dunes and brush. He went over there and found that it was stored full of G.I. mattresses. Nobody would come around for months at a time. He called it his "mattress mine." He'd say "Richard! Go over to the mattress mine and get a couple of more, now. We want to make a walkway down to the pump shed, so that we can run down there and start the pump without having to walk on scorpions." They built a great big U-shaped makeshift couch out of these mattresses around the fireplace out in the backyard which was the expanse of the desert. So the fire would be set at night and we'd all get comfortable under the stars and eat and carry on and he constantly entertaining. That's why he was so great - because he practiced on a daily basis. All he needed was an audience of one and away he'd go.

Tom Constanten: At the old library building in downtown Las Vegas there was a meeting to start an astronomy club. Lord Buckley was there, his nattily waxed mustache glistening by the fire in his eyes. When the subject of picking a name for the group came up in the meeting, he suggested "Star Diggers," but, alas, they weren't ready for him at all.

Lord Buckley: If you believe in something, stay on it! Because it belongs to you.

Within two years of the release of "Black Cross" on Buckley’s Way Out Humor album, Bob Dylan (then a young Jewish troubadour hailing from Hibbing, Minnesota) had transformed "Black Cross" into a dramatic talking blues in perhaps the one instance where a cover version of Buckley may well surpass the work of the master. Dylanologists all agree that Lord Buckley helped fuel the singer-songwriter's inspiration and early aesthetic. Although the two never met, Buckley was important in Dylan's development. A number of people are cited as having introduced Dylan to the Buckley magic, including comedian turned activist clown Hugh Romney (now loved the galaxy over as Wavy Gravy) and New York stand-up shaman Steve Ben Israel, who was doing some Buckley riffs in his Greenwich Village nightclub engagements. Ben Israel also remembers a great night at the Cafe Wha? when Dylan shared the stage with Fred Neil, the Reverend John Hicken, and Dorris Henderson, who had supplied vocal support to Buckley's performance of "Black Cross" on the Ivar concert LP, so perhaps some connection was made then. Another version of how Dylan may have gotten juiced on Buckley concerns the apartment he shared with Romney during the summer of 1961. When Romney brought home Buckley's album Way Out Humor that included "Black Cross," Dylan took to it immediately and studied it in the same way he had previously absorbed Woody Guthrie.

The monologue became a Dylan perennial of the period. Indeed, in a 1961 interview with Izzy Young (founder of the long-gone but fondly remembered Folklore Center in the Village), Dylan quoted whole chunks of "Black Cross" verbatim when asked about his views on religion: "Got no religion. Tried a bunch of different religions. The churches are divided, can't make up their minds and neither can I. Never saw a God, can't say until I see one." It would appear that if Dylan was adapting Woody Guthrie's attire, mannerisms, and Okie twang at this time, he was working Lord Buckley into his neofolkie stew as well.

Maybe the Buckley album on the cover of Bringing it all Back Home is just an album on a shelf where Dylan left him, resurrecting him possibly not again until the mid-1970s to draw on Buckley's hip "Dan McGroo" for "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts."

"Black Cross" had a powerful, if opposite, effect on another composer/musician of renowned sound and round. When Buckley performed the piece in New York City in the fall of 1960, bassist Charles Mingus allegedly charged the stage with a knife in an attempt to stab His Lordship, whom he incorrectly felt was glorifying a lynching. It was only the quick action and soft words of Prince Lewis Foremaster that soothed Mingus and saved Lord Buckley on that occasion.

Jim Dickson: When he came back from Las Vegas I got him a job at a cartoon company where I was working as the sound engineer. It was for Beany and Cecil and they had him do a character called "Go Man Van Gogh." But by the time the cartoon went out and received a positive response, Lord Buckley was dead. The character became very popular on the show but Buckley died. The producers had to get Scatman Crothers to imitate his voice and do the character. It seemed like it had gone full circle. I think Buckley would have liked that.

The surviving print of the Beany and Cecil episode in which Buckley's voice appeared, "The Wildman of Wildsville," has dated remarkably well. Beany and Cecil travel to a deserted island to track down and capture the Wildman (aka Go Man Van Gogh). While deftly working references to Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, and the hungry i jazz club into the script, the writers also manage to poke fun at Bugs Bunny and Freudian psychology. Buckley's parts are really quite funny both in content and delivery, and it appears as if the animation was rendered after he laid down some basic ad-libs.

Upon further consideration, a career in voice-over artistry may have made Lord Buckley a name as recognizable as Mel Blanc, the man behind the sounds of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the Looney Tunes cartoons' crew.

Del Close: Then we'd have Bible reading classes after that in which Buckley would point out where the jokes were in the New Testament and, actually, in some of the Old Testament as well. There was something about "The Wise and Foolish Virgins" and some of the jokes in the Gospel of Luke or John. One concerned Nathaniel the rabbi meeting Jesus on the road. I still know where they are.

Anticipating Lenny Bruce's scathing "Religion Inc." by at least a couple of years, "Return of the Stranger'' casts the Second Coming in a corrupt phantasm of the middle future, which crests in a rare and wonderful Buckley punch line: "Jesus Christ! It’s Jesus Christ!"

Lord Buckley: A hip good-bye is to all the solid Cats and Kitties that swing this precious cherry land of America: may you always put it down solid and in great truth and in great beauty. And it is the prayer of the hipsters that the hip gangs, the Cobras and all the gangs: quit squarin' up and get hip, which means to be wise and make the people that love them, proud of them.

Shel Silverstein: Lord Buckley would come in at night, dressed in an old beautiful suit, a fresh flower in his lapel, gracious to all, with hugs, with deep laughs and strange sighs, always gentle, always uneven in the rambling levels of his midnight confrontation with demons and saints. He was vulnerable to near perfection. A quiet legend even before his time was over, he died of starvation and thoughtlessness during the attempt by the city police of New York to prevent people without cabaret cards from making a living, from working at the only thing they knew how to do. This brutality of spirit, inherent in red tape and in the affairs of the state, was the very thing he could not cope with. It is the antithesis of love. And Lord Buckley’s life was full of love.

The next day the Chicago Tribune ran a more lengthy review: That old saw, "If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em," readily applies to the performance Lord Richard Buckley presents once each night in Alan Ribback's Gate of Horn, Chicago Avenue and Dearborn Street.

Lord Buckley: It has been a most precious pleasure to have temporarily strolled in the garden of your affection.

The cabaret card law was an antiquated statute that prevented not only performers but any restaurant and club employee from working if they had been convicted of a crime, however minor. This included bartenders, waiters, waitresses, dishwashers, hat check girls, and doormen. Buckley had been busted but, according to him, not convicted for public drunkenness nineteen years earlier in Reno - and there were those Chicago and Indianapolis busts still on record. Buckley, apparently because of a misunderstanding, failed to report this on his cabaret card application and this was used as the excuse to confiscate his license and shut down his show. Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Billie Holiday, and Lenny Bruce were some of the more notable artists who also suffered at the hands of the cabaret card licensing bureau. For an under-the-table price, of course, one's card was usually returned - no questions asked. Under a department ruling in 1941, all nightclub employees, including star performers, had to apply for police identification or cabaret cards before they were allowed to work. They had to be fingerprinted, "mugged" (photographed), and pay a two-dollar fee for a card that had to be renewed every two years. Some entertainers felt the practice was illegal and virtually all knew it to be humiliating, discriminatory, and an inducement to corruption. Under police rules a cabaret could be closed if the owner was discovered allowing an employee to work without a card. Doc Humes Lord Buckley was a beautiful nut. He believed we should all treat each other like royalty. I can say he was a decent, generous man, and I liked him. After he was gone it was evident to everyone who had wanted to help him that something had to be done about the cabaret bureau. Their card system is a real cancer. I think the police have arrogated tremendous power to themselves in the past two decades. And that's how the committee got started. That whole period around November 1960 has to be looked at in terms of pathology. It was crazy beyond belief - the cabaret card scandal centering on Lord Buckley, the trouble the Village coffeehouses were having and, of course, the big folksingers' riot in Washington Square Park, which was the first anyone saw the T.P.F., the Tactical Police Force, in fatigues instead of uniform. I was chairman of the Citizen's Emergency Committee which was attempting to deal with the repressiveness being brought down on Buckley. Since the days of Prohibition the New York police had been mugging and fingerprinting artists before they could do club work. Thelonious Monk had to pay ten thousand dollars to get his card back. It was a real racket – out and out harassment. That's when the cabaret card thing blew up. Actually it was Buckley's trip east that blew the cabaret card scam sky-high. When Nina Simone burned her card everybody else decided they would burn theirs and a lot of stuff in the newspapers came out about the cabaret cards and the scandal that went on around them. The cabaret card scandal was a scandal that went back to the twenties and Prohibition days. If nothing else they should have put that on Lord Buckley’s tombstone: "The guy that blew the cabaret card scam sky-high." That was a major achievement.

The events of the following three weeks are murky and convoluted at best. Friends and associates of Buckley alternately report wild partying, despondency, and/or both. But from the many personal reminiscences and press reports in the New York newspapers following Buckley's death, it is possible to piece together some outline of his movements in those last days.

Speculation surrounds (and continues to surround) the circumstances and official version of Buckley's passing, with every theory from foul play to a broken heart cited as the cause. Perhaps, as one friend suggested: "Lord Buckley was so heavy, Jake, he just fell off the planet."

Doc Humes: The last thing Buckley said to me over the telephone before he hung up for ever was: "I'm sorry, I've got to find help somewhere, they're bugging me to death. In fact I got the Bugbird in me right now." The Bugbird, as anyone who has heard his version of Poe's poem knows, is the Raven, symbol of impending death. The last thing he was working on before he died was a wall plaque; I have it in my possession. He was hand-lettering a quotation from Mencken, but he didn't get to finish it. Only half the letters are colored in. It reads as follows: "The best and clearest thinking of the world is done, and the finest art is produced, not by those who are hungry, nagged and harassed, but by those who are well-fed, warm and easy in mind. It is the artist's first duty to his art to achieve that tranquility for himself.'' But it's useless to carry on this way. I'm still sore that he's dead, because he should have died laughing.

Joey Adams, who, like Sinatra, had refused to apply for a card, was forced to get one but said, "Why should we have to get police permission to work anymore than the guys in the dress business or newspaper reporters? If even an ex-convict has paid his debt to society and is law-abiding, I don't see why he has to pay a bribe to somebody in order to be allowed to play a horn or dance in a nightclub."

Mort Fega: I feel really privileged to have had the opportunity to speak at his funeral. I'd had no time to prepare my remarks, so I'm convinced that Lord Buckley was whispering in my ear as I concluded my homage with this wonderfully appropriate quote of his, "The flowers, the gorgeous, mystic, multi colored flowers are not the flowers of life, but people, yes people, are the true flowers of life. And it has been a most precious privilege to have temporarily strolled in your garden."

Tubby Boots: I watched one of the most touching things. A comedian named Sid Gould walked over to the casket, bent down, stuck a joint in Buckley's breast pocket, kissed him, and said, "When you get there, here's a little thing for you."

Lord Buckley: Love is the international understanding that each and every one of us exactly the same problems to fight.

Lord Buckley: What a great thing it is to be alive. My Lords my Ladies ... would it embarrass you very much if I were to tell you that ... I love you? It embarrasses you, doesn’t it?

Lord Buckley: It is the duty of any given nation in time of high crisis to attack the catastrophe that faces it in such a manner as to cause the people to laugh at it in such a way that they do not die before they get killed.

Lord Buckley: Make the most of all that comes. Make the least of all that goes.


Buy this book

To Deuce of Clubs