Thursday, January 22, 2009

Celebrity: California Dreamin’

(Michelle Phillips, Warner Books, 1987)
The true story of The Mamas and The Papas as told by ex-member Michelle Phillips, the best looking (at the time) and least necessary of all four constituents, and last surviving member of the band. A quick, pleasant little book which reads more like a verbal chronological than a written biography, remarkably low on the bitchiness scale considering Michelle Phillips public persona as presented, developed and groomed by her former running character in the old nighttime TV soap, Knot’s Landing. Where is she today?
As she narrates it, her mobile youth spent all over the US and Mexico is as equally interesting as her career as a Mama, but regrettably not as fully detailed. As a young singing hippie, working in one band of her husband’s after the other, she seems to do a lot of stupidly thoughtless things, more out of simple dizziness than anything else. Probably her worst trait is that she continually falls in love and fucks the various men that John Phillips befriends and works with, which puts a considerable strain on both their personal and working relationship... but what the hell, she’s simply being bohemian!
Unintentionally, the book does bring the idea across that all members of The Mamas and Papas other than Mama Cass really weren’t capable of much by themselves,
even if they were talented. Much like The Monkees, the four singing semi-hippies together clicked like the ingredients of a good cake; likewise, alone they might’ve been good, but they just weren’t good enough—Cass’s early death (not from a ham sandwich but from a failed heart) might render this discussion moot, however. As Michelle Phillips isn’t one for much introspection, no deep insights are to be found in California Dreamin’. More than anything, the book is a simple reminiscence of a time happily remembered, warts and all.

Images (from the web):
1. The book.
2. She was a dream, wasn't she?
3. Beauty – here today, gone tomorrow.

And now, for you visual and aural pleasure, The Mama and the Papas:

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