Hey pallies, likes as we are greatfully grateful to publish a couple more Dino-grams sharin' our great gratefulness to now deceased Dino-biographer Mr. Nick Tosches who left our planet on Sunday, October 20. Today we share a second "memorial" to our most beloved Dino that Nick scribed for the "Village Voice" after he had written the New York Times prose shared last Saturday here at ilovedinomartin.
This truly heart-felt tribute by Tosches was tagged by him as "Requiescat Dino," and was printed in Mr. Tosches' extraordinary essay tome, "The Nick Tosches Reader," which btw also includes Nick's other excellent essay "God Created Dean Martin in His Own Image, Then Stood Back." We will be sure to post that once more here at ilovedinomartin in the near Dino-future.
Likes we gotta 'fess up that we were not certain what "requiescat" means so we did a little searchin' and discovered that it is "a wish or prayer for the repose of a dead person." In his own words in the introduction Nick states that this remembrance "was written simply and directly from the heart," and we couldn't concur more with his thoughts. Likes as we said in the beginning, we heartfully believe that this is truly the deepest of deep Dino-devotional prose that we have ever read and shared here at ilovedinomartin.
We shares this with radiant respect for our Dino and with awesome appreciato to Mr. Nick Tosches for his long lastin' devotion to our one and only Dino.
Yours In Dino,
Dino Martin Peters
I wrote two very different memorials to Dean Martin following his death on Christmas Day 1995. One of them, published in the New York Times was a piece of shit, or at least ended up being such by the time it reached print. The other published in the Village Voice and reprinted here, was written simply and directly from the heart.
I spent Christmas quietly, pleasantly alone. Late in the afternoon, as it grew dark and I was preparing to go out, I turned on the radio. It was WCBS-AM, an all news station, but what I heard was "That's Amore." I knew then that Dean Martin had died. I experienced an errie and subdued wave of melancholy. I have never met the man, yet for many years---since long before I had thought of casting the shadow of his life through the pages of a book---I had felt an odd, abiding affinity with him, as of something in the blood, as with an old uncle to whom unsaid and unsayable ways, breezes of dark and of light, bound me. I liked to know he was there, in this world, though I knew he long had been receding from it, and in this slow fade to black there likely was a cautionary lesson to be learned concerning those breezes and those ways. This little wave of melancholy brought with it chill, like the final stirring and vanishing of one of those familiar breezes from the world.
I had heard lately that he was in bad shape, but I had been hearing this for years. Every once in a while, someone would catch a glimpse of his solitary public decay in one of he three restaurants where in recent years he had sat and drank and smokes and sometimes ate---Hamburger Hamlet, La Famiglia, and Da Vinci. The supermarket tabloids had been declaring him dead for years: "Frail Dean Martin Flees Hospital in Cancer Nightmare: Doctors Give Only Months to Live," announced the Enquirer in the fall of 1993. A few months later, it was "Beloved Dino Is Wasting Away." Then, in the Spring of 1994, "Dean Martin: His Tragic Last Days." And the great man had lived on. He was quoted as saying he wanted "to die at La Famiglia with a Scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other"; but he outlived La Famiglia and had to move to Da Vinci for his J&B-and-sodas and his ashtray.
He was 78. I wanted him to hit 80, the age at which Buddha died. That is how I sometimes thought of him" the American Buddha. The idea of tragedy, of last tragic days, appeals and sells. But Jeannie, his wife of many years and in the end his closest friend, long had told me that somehow, in his seclusion and his silence, he was perfectly content.
A couple of months ago, I agreed to serve as the executive producer of a Dean Martin reissue for the Scamp subsidiary of Caroline Records. All I had to do was choose the recordings and write the notes. I was looking forward to him being alive when I wrote the notes, alive and in his 80th year when the album came out; Looking forward to playing the Bodhidharma angle, saying that if Dino grew a beard and wrapped himself in saffron cloth he would be considered a spiritual master in his silent wisdom and withdrawal from the world into contentment.
And I would half believe what I would say.
It was, in a way, Dean's refusal to wear a robe of piety, his absolute and innane lack of pretension that has stood in the way of a wider recognition of and deeper respect for his work. Just listen, say to his 1951 Capitol recording, "Torma a Surriento," or watch him in Billy Wilder's banned and overlooked "Kiss Me Stupid," from 1964. Of course, after a while, in his enlightenment, he stopped taking any of it seriously. Unlike Sinatra, he never adopted the air of gravitas, never bore himself with self-importance, or treated his work as if it were art.
And that is why, in an age when pretense prevails over substance, every coughing of Sinatra has been reverently preserved and packaged while Dean has been regarded with the insouciance with which he regarded the world---but Sinatra, for one, was aware of what lay beneath that insouciance, and his words upon Dean's death may be the most beguiling he has ever uttered: "He has been like the air I breathe."
While I was working on the long strange book that came to be called Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, it was Jeannie who told me that I would learn nothing about Dean from Dean, that he had completely divorced himself from, had no interest in, his memories and his life. Still, I wanted to meet him and when the book was done and published, Jeannie set about arranging a rendezvous. At the last minute, Dean told her, "If I'm going to meet the guy I should at least show him the respect of reading his book first." Dean had read Black Beauty as a boy. Or so he claimed. Such was the extent of his reading. So that was that.
In the days following his passing I found that I wasn't alone in feeling that a breeze had died away. I ran into people who seemed to express something like sadness, something rarely heard in idle talk of a stranger's death.
"Jesus," I heard more than once. "I was hoping he at least would've outlived that fucking Jerry Lewis"---a sentiment of sincerity if not quite of mourning and one of such seeming popularity that Hallmark might well consider its message for a mass-produced sympathy card. And me, meanwhile, with my poignant fucking breezes thinking out loud, "I hope those stupid sons of bitches at Dell know to reissue the paperback but quick."
Anyway, he was one of a kind, and he lived. A mystery maybe even unto himself: but he lived."